Today I am going to stray from my current topic of "Must Have" technologies. My brief detour is specifically about web conferencing technology because I used one that saved my behind three days ago. I had a call scheduled in the afternoon with a technology foundation and a national non-profit. The call bridge was setup by the foundation and for some reason the bridge was not working. I called the foundation and they were troubleshooting the problem but I got the feeling that it may take a while. 


As fate would have it that very same day I was listening to the new audio book Start Something that Matters, by Blake Mycoskie. The book is about the founder of Toms Shoes and his amazing story. That very morning I had listened to the chapter where he was giving some of the great tools out there that you can use if you are a small and scrappy start-up trying to save money. Now, I plan on doing a separate blog entry just on this book and some others that you absolutely have to read. But for the purpose of this blog post I just want to cover one of the conference call tools that he mentioned in the book and some others I have used in the past. 

In the book he mentions briefly a company that you can use that will provide you with FREE conference call bridges. Because I didn't remember the exact company I just googled "free conference bridges" and sure enough a couple of vendors came up. 

I quickly registered for one which I will show here in a second. I called my contact at the foundation and told her to call in so we could test it. She called and it worked perfectly. Immediately after that we emailed it to the non-profit and in a matter of minutes all parties were on the call and we hadn't lost any time at all. I was so happy that I wanted to email Blake Mycoskie and tell him that his book has already helped me and kept me from looking like an idiot. I will save that for another date though ;-)


I am sure there are tons of them out there but this is the actual company I used in the story above. The company is called FreeConferenceCall.com. It took me a couple of seconds literally to register and they instantly provided me with everything I needed which is below:

- Conference Bridge Number
- Participant code
- Host Code
- Call Recording 
- Call playback

Best part is, it's totally free.

 

 


The next web conferencing tool is what we used at the previous start-up I worked at. We used GotoMeeting for everything we did. The sales guys did every walk through and presentation through this application. Account Managers would walk customers through our custom portal via GoToMeeting as well. It's very easy to use. You sign up and get a conference call number that you distribute to the participants of our call. If you are going to share a presentation or site that you want them to see then even better. You log into your GoToMeeting portal / app and setup your meeting. You email out the phone bridge number along with a provided link for participants to login to see your shared screen. It is literally that easy. If you are the host of the presentation you have to download the GTM app that lets you do everything a lot easier and faster. 
 
Price: $49/month with no long term contract. This will let you have up to 15 participants at any given time. They also have a 30-day free trial so you can test it out and see if you like it. Always a good call for testing out these types of applications. 


 
The last tool I am going to cover Cisco Webex. When I started working at Rackspace Hosting about ten years ago we used these guys but mainly because one of our executives was a former Webex guy. Webex basically is the same tool as GotoMeeting with the same functionality more or less. To be honest I always remember people having problems setting up webex but nonetheless they were the gold standard ten years ago. As of right now I have no experience with this tool. If you just browse their website the pricing in a little confusing as they have a separate line charge for audio features which is included in GotoMeeting. Their starting price is cheaper at$19/month but when you add the audio features you are back up to $64/month but now you have that nickel and dime gross feeling all over you. As always I would love for someone to tell me if these guys are good or bad. 

 

 
Now the call for all eSamaritans out there. If you have experience with one of these tools we would love to hear about it. If you know of a web conferencing tool that we should absolutely hear about and we are missing it please send it over or post a comment!